Saturday Lists

My husband, Rick

My husband, Rick

All week long, little mishaps such as a broken pan handle or a burned-out light bulb can cause some frustration that dampens our joy a bit. They are little things, but they can be very annoying and inconvenient. I know I’m not the only mom who has lived with a broken drawer handle for months (or years) just because there is never time to fix it. And when it is finally fixed in 5 minutes, I find myself moaning, “Is that all it took?”, as I had fumbled with it constantly while doing my homemaking.

We found a solution that works at our house. Every time some little irritating household repair or need comes up, I jot it onto our Saturday List. This is just a piece of paper stuck on the front of the fridge. Just writing it on there gives me relief. I rest my mind, knowing it will be taken care of and I don’t have to feel frustrated with it. It will have its day!

Then, Saturday morning at breakfast, we assign names to the tasks. If the list is long, we star the top priorities, choose a reasonable amount and save the rest for next Saturday. Don’t burn out by working all day. Just a couple of morning hours is enough to get a lot done!



We ask the kids what jobs they want, and it is amazing how they will volunteer with eagerness. Perhaps it is to avoid being assigned something they like less, but I am happy for volunteers nevertheless! I jot their initial along with a parent’s name (if needed). After breakfast, it is time for family work time.

Dad and Mom do most of the work when kids are young, obviously, but the jobs do double duty. They not only get the chore done, but they give some precious one-on-one time, training at a parent’s side.


My son, Ammon

Dad and Ammon fixed the bathroom sink plug together this past Saturday, and Ammon learned something about how to be a man, as well as how to fix the sink. He finished the job feeling more capable, having spent some quality time with his Dad. Louisa and I baked the week’s whole wheat bread supply that afternoon. She did most of the measuring and mixing and will soon be baking it herself, I am sure. As kids grow, the parent becomes more of an overseer, watching as the child learns by doing it under his experienced eye.

Don’t get annoyed by the constant supply of irritating broken things. They are a unique educational opportunity, if we just see them for what they are!


May I recommend:

Kids to the Rescue!

Kids’ Gardening

Home Economics Course

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Picking Away at Happiness

heart-668592_1280Such is the nature of kids: if there is a little hole in something, they pick away at it and the hole grows bigger by the day.

I had a tiny hole in the fabric on my living room sofa. It was on the arm of the couch where someone had snagged their jewelry perhaps, and made an eensy tear in the fabric. It was when my house was busy with my 7 kids, and although I reminded them not to put their finger in it until I could repair it, it got bigger day by day. Soon a little wisp of stuffing was coming out and day-by-day that hole increased unbeknownst to me until I suddenly noticed that the couch arm looked deflated. The little ones had found it just right for their finger to poke in and pull out a bit of stuffing. Day-by-day, it had eroded.

I guess we aren’t so very different when we grow up. We marry because another person makes our happiness complete. We feel such joy in being with them, and the promise of the future is great! Then we discover a little hole in the fabric of their character or in their mannerisms. Instead of leaving it alone, sometimes we foolishly pick away at it. We mention it, make it the brunt of a joke maybe, and take mental note of it rather than forgiving or brushing it off. Every so often, we poke our finger in it and pick away at our happiness.

fabric-316777_1280I think it is a dimension of maleness to want to be strong and capable and protective of women. Boys exhibit this too, as they grow up. The hallmark of puberty for boys seems to be an awareness of their muscles and wanting to lift weights or excel in sports as a way to practice that strength. Although everyone enjoys sincere praise, men seem to particularly need to be admired and respected. We do our husbands great damage when we pick away at them, exposing their flaws and repeating their mistakes to others. What we don’t seem to realize is that we are undermining our own happiness! Just as my couch arm gradually deflated, we may discover to our great dismay that our own happiness in marriage has gradually eroded and the fault is our own. We “poke our finger in the hole” of our husband’s idiosyncrasies or flaws and do immense damage to their self-image, their feelings of love for us and respect for themselves.

I am not innocent . . . that’s why I know to write about it! It seems we women can sometimes be pros at noticing mistakes but we may be a little too quick to expose them. There is great charity in lovingly dismissing another’s small weaknesses.

To myself, I would say: “Today, be kind. Overlook other’s flaws and shortcomings. Do all you can to build up others, to see the best in them, especially amongst your own beloved family members.”

rabbit-344311_1280A few authorities on the subject;

Thumper’s mother (Mrs. Rabbit): “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I Thessalonians 5:11: “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another . . . “


May I recommend:

Polite Answers

Stop Talking

When Queens Ride By

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The Girl I Used to Be



        The Girl I Used to Be

She came tonight as I sat alone,
The girl I used to be.
And she gazed at me with her earnest eye
And questioned reproachfully,

“Have you forgotten the many plans
And hopes that I had for you?”
“The great career, the splendid fame,
All the wonderful things to do?”

“Where is the mansion of stately height
With all of its gardens rare?”
“The silken robes that I dreamed for you
And the shining jewels in your hair?”

And as she spoke, I was very sad
For I wanted her pleased with me . . .
This slender girl from the shadowy past,
The girl that I used to be.

So gently rising, I took her hand,
And guided her up the stairs
Where peacefully sleeping, my babies lay
So innocent, sweet, and fair.

I told her that these are my only gems,
And precious they are to me;
That silken robe is my motherhood
Of costly simplicity.

And my mansion of stately height is love,
And the only career I know,
Is serving each day in these sheltered walls
For the dear ones who come and go.

And as I spoke to my shadowy guest,
She smiled through her tears at me;
And I saw the woman I am now,
Pleased I’m the girl I used to be.

                       —Author Unknown



May I recommend:

The Silent Work of Women

It’s up to Us, Mom!

When Queens Ride By

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Building a Child’s Education

teamwork-606818_1280When I plan my homeschool, I think of it as constructing a lovely building. You must first start with a firm, sturdy base, especially if you are building a lofty edifice!  These are the basics of being a fine person: character, virtues and goodness. Training children in the way they should go is an on-going job, but if it goes lacking, not much else matters. We don’t want to create “educated devils”.

Next comes a solid foundation of educational skills, such as reading, writing, math, history and life skills (know-how) that builds year after year. Building  a firm foundation of skills and knowledge prepares for the next level of the structure, which is that learning that will help you to specialize and follow your interests. This prepares your for your life work!

Now, imagine:  A child who has been trained to be honest and good, from the time of his babyhood.  Taught to master basic education and skills, as he grows.  Led to develop his talents in the special path of his interest. He is ready for life! He is ready to give the world his gift!  This is the goal of education.

This can be visualized in the chart below:


May I recommend:

Home is the School

Begin with the End in Mind

Curriculum Kits

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Begin with the End in Mind

lovetosave1Ever feel like you are bumbling around amidst a three-ring circus in your attempts to homeschool? There is nothing like a new baby to restore a teacher/mother’s humility in the face of her own inadequacies! For our homeschool, this chaos repeats itself every few years with the advent of a precious new “student.” I have homeschooled in my robe nursing my baby while I have tried to teach math, correct papers and read stories:
“Mom, can’t you hold the book still? I can’t see the pictures.”
“Sorry, honey, the baby needs to be rocked.”

Guilt inevitably settles in as I imagine the public school superintendent dropping by for a surprise visit: “This is school?!”
Any of this sound familiar?

However, there is something about persevering with the matter of learning every day that convinces me that homeschooling is the right choice, even when it is far from perfection. Maybe it is not so far from perfection as we perceive it to be. What could be the perfect Unit Study if it is not watching your own mother morning-sick, uncomfortable, growing, waiting, and preparing, and seeing your own father helping, praying constantly for the well-being of the mother and child, serving tirelessly, taking on Mother’s workload—all in the anticipation of a new family member’s arrival after a tenuous 9-month journey? Our older children were able to see their baby brother’s delivery, and what awestruck expressions they had on their faces! Even though they were only present for the last few moments of his birth, they got a taste of the sacrifice required, the pain involved and also the joyous miracle of a new life! Then came the meals, letters, flowers, gifts, calls of concern, help of friends and neighbors: what an outpouring of love, and what an impression it made upon my children! “Lots of people care about us!” they said. It caused us all to recommit to helping people when they need us because it made such a wonderful difference to our family.

The time I spent recovering laying in bed listening to my children was quite a revelation! What a time to assess how well I have taught my children to be self-sufficient: to cook a meal, do the laundry, care for the little ones, be patient, etc. Here’s the real report card! If they can’t take care of day-to-day living, it really doesn’t matter very much if they know how to divide fractions, now does it? First things first.

grandbaby_Oct2010Oh, the sweet vulnerability of babies! How dependent these little children are upon us, their parents, to teach them things of importance as they grow to the age of accountability. Seeing my little babe’s helplessness instills a great desire in my heart to carefully consider how I invest my children’s learning hours. Every homeschooler knows the frustration of “there is so much I want to teach them!” and time seems so limited. School year seems to flow into school year, and when I stop and consider what we’ve done, it doesn’t all seem as vital as I hoped it would.

So, with this new baby, I am taking the opportunity to see with new eyes what is really of value and how I can best teach it. I am setting some goals for what I want them to know when they leave my tutelage and just how we will arrive at that envied destination. The motto “Begin with the end in mind” is crucial to homeschool. With every-day crises, it is very easy to just survive instead of living your plan. Yet the years keep on circling around, and the moment is lost if we are not vigilant in aligning our activities with our goals.

Here are the goals that I have prayerfully arrived at:

  • Teach my children to love the Lord and to know Him as their personal Savior, their help in time of need and their model of what to grow to be like.
  • Teach them to love the Constitution and their freedom more than their lives.
  • Teach them that each has a gift to give to mankind and that it is their responsibility to discover their gift, their life’s mission, and to make it their life’s work to give it to the world.
  • Teach them that they can be a far more useful instrument in the Lord’s hands if they are clear-thinking and articulate.
  • Teach them to be self-sufficient and live providently.

It is amazing how little this has to do with square roots and diagramming sentences, although those are necessary and have their proper priority.

After mapping my goals, I search for the best books and teaching tools and try to commit myself to what I will use with each child that year and to exactly what we hope to accomplish. Of course, this is subject to change, as are all the best of plans, but at least it points us in the right direction. Reviewing my goals regularly keeps me on track (and also helps me see how easy it is to get waylaid!).

I know one mother who is going to begin homeschooling “as soon as she gets organized and prepared.” She has been “preparing” for 6 years now! Preparation is really a spiritual matter. You are prepared enough if you can answer “yes” to these questions:

  1. Do I want to do the will of the Lord in educating my children, whatever it may be?
  2. Do I have my child’s best interest at heart?
  3. Am I teachable—willing to be learn, accept, flex, be inspired?
  4. Am I dedicated?

trail-352284_1280It takes time and effort to homeschool. Those hours must come from somewhere, which means less time for Mom to do what she wants.

“When you take the very first step on the road, you also take the last.” Take the time to make sure you are on the right road so when you’ve been retired from homeschooling, you can look back on your years with your children and feel confident that you’ve taught them the things that really matter!


May I recommend:

Simplify Your Homeschool

Study Schedule

Wisdom and the Millers

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It’s Up to Us, Mom!


Emily makes a quilt for her future family

I wish I could say that we have arrived at the modern age and now we can breathe easier and relax a bit and turn over the instruction and entertainment of our children to some electronic device or nanny or government program or Sunday school class or something. But the fact is, it is still up to parents to raise the world’s next generation of human beings. And unless your husband is independently wealthy and available all day long, then it is mostly in mother’s hands. And how fine will the next generation be? How polite, articulate, kind, intelligent, sensitive and ammondec2009spiritual will they turn out?

It’s up to us, Mom!

In times past, all the work had to be done by the family members, and in so doing, side-by-side, they created lasting bonds and parents taught their children through modeling good behavior. When everyone works together in the fields to grow the family’s sustenance; the lessons of persistence, dependability, hard work, even-temper, and other virtues are built right in. It isn’t quite so easy these days to pass along our values.

One day I was talking with a spunky elderly lady who had just found out that her husband was terminally ill. She used a term I had never heard before, saying, “I guess I will have to pull up my socks and be a woman”. (I suppose in the olden days only little girls wore turned down socks.) That term stuck in my head, and recently, I had a little talk with myself over my “tiredness” and I said, “It is time to pull up your socks and be a woman and do this job of child-raising!”

gunnysack_racesThe job is ours. We can use resources to help us, but ultimately we cannot transfer our responsibility to the school or the daycare or the scouts or the neighborhood or the community recreation department or the television/computer games. It is you and me, Mom. The joy will be ours if the job is done well, and the heartache will be ours if we are too tired to nurture and train our child. If you have a husband who is a good father and helps in this process, you are blessed indeed. Even without that support, we just do all we can, as mothers, and it will make a difference!

We can get parenting help from living in these modern times, if we choose wisely. A dishwasher is a marvelous time saver! I fear, however, that instead of sighing relief when the dishwasher goes on, and scooping up our kids to read a story or do a project together, that we are perhaps just jamming more work, hobbies, or entertainment into that freed-up time. Labor-saving devices can truly enrich our lives by making us more available to our kids—if we give our energy to our kids instead of dishwashing. But, we must make that choice!

“I believe our problems, almost every one, arise out of the homes of the people. If there is to be reformation, if there is to be a change, if there is to be a return to old and sacred values, it must begin in the home. It is here that truth is learned, that integrity is cultivated, that self-discipline is instilled, and that love is nurtured.” —G. B. H.

Work with your kids today!


May I recommend:

Kids to the Rescue!

Too Tired!


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Don’t Ask Twice


balls-712026_1280When my kids were younger, going to the grocery store with them could be such a struggle! Each of them in turn was bedazzled by some treat or toy that they caught a glimpse of and the begging would begin: “Can we buy those cookies?” . . . “I want ice cream!” . . . “We don’t have any juice, Mom!” . . . “We need a big ball!”.

It is hard enough to grocery shop on a budget surrounded by convenience foods, heavy advertising, coupons and more, but add begging kids and it put me over the top! I found myself aggravated and just making a blanket “no” to any and every thing they asked! That’s when I decided to adopt a “don’t ask twice” policy.

I taught my children that they could ask me one time for what they wanted, enabling them to express their desire or getting me to “look” at what they thought was so exciting. But not twice!

Asking once is fine, but if they were to ask twice, the answer was an automatic “no”. No discussion, no questions answered, just an automatic “no”. This took a while to teach them. I had to remind them, “please don’t ask twice or I can’t say yes”. I overheard the older ones tutoring the little ones: “Don’t ask twice or she’ll say no!”

But then—oh—what peace we had!

I was able to do my shopping and think clearly and make good decisions without being bombarded with pleading for this or that. I was able to reasonably consider and occasionally grant their desires. And it was extra fun to hear them squeal with delight when I steered my cart back to the aisle of their desire and asked them what color of a ball they’d like!



May I recommend:

Teaching Kids to Interrupt Politely

The King of Me

A House United

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Farm Wisdom


fence-422990_1280Eighteen years ago we moved from bustling southern California to rural Utah and tried to learn to work the land, to plant an orchard, to raise animals—to live a country life. It didn’t come easy! But, we were blessed to have old timers as neighbors and their farm wisdom was profound.

One adage that I heard repeated was, “A plant in need is quick to seed.” Whenever you see a plant that is immature and small, but blooming, you can be sure it isn’t getting what it needs to thrive. It senses that conditions are dire, and tries to bloom and set seed as quickly as possible, or its life will be in vain.

I have pondered this law of nature, and realized how much it applies to children. When children live in emotionally healthy conditions and are secure, nurtured and loved; they have lots of interests and hobbies. They feel there is plenty of time to grow lush and full and mature before they must concern themselves with reproduction. There is no rush. Rather, there is a feeling of full contentment in the growth process. They have lots they want to learn and do and see and try.

hahn-287466_1280However, when home life is unsatisfying, when God is left out of their lives, when the culture overtakes them via the media, when great meaning in life, and a cause is not taught to children, it seems their focus jumps prematurely to being “quick to seed”. It amazes me how “boy-crazy” girls have become at such a young and tender age. It seems even 9-year-olds want to wear bras and make-up. Appallingly, they are concerned with looking attractive to the opposite sex! Few are “bashful-about-boys”, demure young ladies. More and more common are girls that are aggressive flirts.

Pruning has its human connection too. When we moved to our land, I was busy child-bearing. I was eager to grow fruit trees, but my days were filled with caring for my little ones and teaching my kids, and I was often interrupted in a task. I walked out in the orchard recently to see grown trees that are bent and leaning, unable to bear their load of fruit because of their crooked trunks. One tree even had its stake pounded neatly into the ground next to it, but for the pitiful lack of a cord, it grew slanted from the wind. Just a thin cord would have trained it straight and upright and able to bear the weight of its fruit.

apple-tree-360083_1280So it is with children. Just a little consistent training when they are young will yield what dynamite can’t fix when they are grown. I didn’t know enough about this when I was a young mother. I didn’t realize that teaching them to say “please” for every favor when they were just barely able to speak would give them a pleasant social manner and a grateful heart. I didn’t think to make sure they they never missed saying their prayers. I didn’t realize that letting them slip out of work before the job was done well would backfire miserably.

Prune any wayward tendencies when they are young and only a slight pressure will hold them upright so they can grow strong and straight. Give them optimum growing conditions and they will grow tall and lush before they feel a need to focus on blooming and seeding. Farm wisdom.


May I recommend:

Want Cooperation?

What Will You Trade Your Time For?

The 21 Rules of This House

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